As an eCommerce business owner, you may be competing against Amazon, Walmart, and Etsy for traffic. According to some estimates, nearly 6 in 10 customers start their online shopping search directly on Amazon.
In other words, if you do not have a presence on Amazon, it can be tricky to acquire customers organically.
But here is the thing – regardless of your industry, most buyers begin their research on search engines like Google. So with the right approach, it is possible to get your business in front of your target buyer right before making a purchasing decision.
Here is a step-by-step guide on achieving this with content marketing.
Step 1: Establish an approach
Each industry is different. If you sell fashion accessories like hair clips or bracelets, you will realize that people do not research a great deal before buying. A lot of these purchases are impulse-driven and happen over visual mediums like Instagram, Pinterest, or even Facebook.
However, for many other products, research is a key part of the buying process. For example, does the shampoo you buy have harmful chemicals in it? Is the brand of pet food you want to buy nutritious? These are Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU) keywords that a highly motivated buyer would search for.
In addition to this, you also have TOFU (Top of the Funnel) searches – these are generally search someone would make at the very beginning of their customer journey and often not even related to the product you sell.
For instance, if you sell stationeries like notebooks and rulers, the TOFU searches may be related to the school year and assignments – topics that someone in your target segment may be interested in.
As a first step in the content marketing process, it is important to establish the approach you want to take with respect to your eCommerce business.
BOFU content is highly profitable. But they are also highly competitive. On the other hand, there is plenty of TOFU content that is not competitive and can help you acquire traffic. But they do not convert very well.
Depending on your budget and how authoritative you are in your domain, you may pick an approach that works for you best.
Step 2: Set up the customer journey
Once you identify the content marketing approach you want to adopt, the next step is to set up the relevant customer journey. Admittedly, there is a lot of trial and error, but this is how you approach this.
People at the bottom of the funnel are highly motivated. So, your content needs to be primed for conversions. One way to do this is by having prominent CTAs (Call To Action) across the range at the right places.
Going back to the example of pet food nutrition, you could interject your content with little information about your products and link to the product page from here. This way, website visitors who read the article may click through to make a purchase.
If you choose to target TOFU searches, your objective is to be seen by the target buyer; not necessarily make a sale. This means that your success metric is to capture their lead information so that you can continue to nurture them overtime for the actual purchase.
In this case, you may need to work on producing top-quality lead magnets (ebooks, downloadables, etc.) that you can advertise alongside your articles. Visitors to your content may notice these lead magnets and sign up for your email newsletter.
Step 3: Content at scale
Now that the infrastructural part of your content marketing strategy is ready, it is time to work on content. To be truly successful, you need to produce content at scale. Bloggers who publish consistently notice much higher gains in the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) than those who only publish once in a while.
If you are a young business without a lot of website authority, it would be good to start with the less-competitive search terms. Then, you may start seeing your website rank for long-tail searches; gain new visitors, and accelerate your ROI.
This is a better strategy than ranking for competitive search terms and not seeing an uptick in traffic.
Depending on your budget, you may want to have full-time writers or hire freelancers on contract. Either way, front-load your content in the early days of your content marketing campaign so that you will start seeing results sooner.
Step 4: SEO
Once you have your content production in process, the next step is to work on SEO. While technical SEO may have a role to play in ranking well on search engines, this step is mainly targeted at off-page SEO. Building top-quality links to your more competitive blog posts are essential to rising through the ranks of the relevant search terms.
As it is always with SEO, quality is more important than quantity. It’s better to secure one backlink from a decent mid-sized website than hundreds of backlinks from user-generated content platforms like forums or shady private blog networks.
Step 5: Promotion
This step runs parallel to SEO and even content production in some ways. Your target buyers do not always go through search engines for research. There are plenty of message boards, Facebook Groups, and subreddits that may engage in conversation about your industry or products.
Take an active interest in these discussions and provide meaningful information to other members seeking information. You may also drop a link to relevant articles wherever they make sense.
This way, you will bring in a lot of new traffic to your website that may convert into leads or customers. As a bonus, these messageboard discussions too frequently appear in Google search results and bring in more traffic from here.
Step 6: Track & Repeat
The final step is to track progress and fix what’s not working. For example, you may encounter several bottlenecks in your content marketing campaign.
Your articles may fail to bring in traffic – in this case; you may need to analyze what’s not working. For example, are you targeting competitive terms? Is your website penalized by Google for shady backlinks? Or are your topics too niched down to appear on any decent search query?
Your traffic may fail to convert – if you see traffic but do not notice any uptick in conversions, you may have to look internally. For example, are your CTAs not prominent enough? Is your lead magnet not attractive enough? Is your newsletter too spammy? Or do you have a deliverability issue with your emails?
Analyzing what’s working and what’s not can help you identify the fixes and continue to fine-tune your campaign.
Content marketing is an integral part of any eCommerce marketing strategy. The guidelines provided in this article may apply to both young and mature businesses and will go a long way in establishing your authority in your industry.